Creative Artists Agency has signed on to represent controversial Chinese filmmaker Wu Hao. Wu’s latest work, “People’s Republic of Desire,” has been selected for consideration in the documentary section of the Academy Awards and goes on commercial release in North America this week.
CAA is set as Wu’s exclusive representation. The company will deploy agents in Beijing and Los Angeles to help build out his career in both the Chinese and international markets.
Shot over two years, “Desire” probes the murky and curious world of live streaming in China and its ability to create Internet idols. The film dedicates most of its time to charting the private lives and online careers of two improbable streaming celebrities, Shen Man, a surgically-enhanced former nurse, and Big Li, a comic. “Desire” won the grand jury prize for documentaries at the SXSW festival in March this year.
With biology degrees from Chinese and U.S. universities and a further MBA from the University of Michigan, Wu is a scientist turned filmmaker and has U.S. residency. A well-known blogger, using the name Tian Yi, Wu was detained by Chinese authorities for some five months in early 2006.
Commentary at the time of his detention said that Wu was by no means a dissident and in fact often defended the Chinese government. He may instead have been incarcerated in relation to his preparations for a documentary film on China’s underground Christians.
“Desire” is his third film as director. He previously made “Beijing or Bust,” which followed the assimilation issues faced by six American-born Chinese after they relocated to China. A second film, “The Road to Fame” follows Chinese students preparing to put on a local version of American musical “Fame.” Wu was also producer on Jocelyn Ford’s 2014 documentary “Nowhere to Call Home: A Tibetan in Beijing.”
“Desire” was made before the Chinese authorities this year increased controls over live streaming.
“The crackdown has been going on for a while. Sometimes it’s more stringent. Then it may loosen a bit before tightening again. It has picked up recently, I think, mostly because livestreaming has finally become mainstream. It’s not surprising that the government is scrutinizing this industry more and more, as there indeed exist many problems in zhibo (livestreaming) content,” Wu said in an interview with online publication Radii in May.